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  • Sachin Sen

BMW G 310 GS: City Review

BMW G 310 GS BS6/Euro 5

The BMW G 310 GS has a few good surprises up its sleeve. My experience riding the motorcycle is as such.

The bike is a looker, and it is indeed the best-looking motorcycle in its segment. But if this baby GS was a human, so many would disregard it as a spoiled child of ultra-rich parents with not enough talent among other kids in the playground.

But then the time goes by, and the story unfolds...

When BMW launched the G 310 GS originally in 2018, the bike came with an exorbitant price tag of INR 3, 49, 000 ex-showroom. It was considered unrealistic and led everyone to question its price-performance value proposition. Even today, this would be a ridiculous amount of money for a single-cylinder 313cc motorcycle, no matter if it’s a BMW, in which case, it should be as good as the R 1250 GS is in its class.

However, BMW corrected a few things when it launched the updated versions of the G 310 GS (and the G 310 R) two years later in 2020. Not only did they update the motorcycles with some relevant features, such as the LED lighting, ride by wire, re-tuned suspension for better feedback, etc., they also lowered the pricing by up to INR 65,000. While the price has increased since then, it is still not so bad.

That said, the original price had already done the damage. So, the question remains if the best-looking motorcycle in the segment is also equally good to ride.

The Burden of the GS Name

BMW G 310 GS BS6/Euro 5
BMW G 310 GS mimicking the design of its eldest sibling, R 1250 GS

While the motorcycle’s name is hardly a reflection of its capability, you can’t deny that being called a ‘GS’ creates a load of expectations.

The GS brand has built its reputation absolutely entirely on the flagship, boxer-twin-engined, and what’s known today as the R 1250 GS in its latest avatar. The biggest, baddest, and the most awesome of the GSs is not only one of the best motorcycles in the BMW lineup, it is considered one of the greatest motorcycles ever made. And it is, of course, often the benchmark in its class even though it’s not the most powerful adventure tourer out there.

The R 1250 GS is a unique motorcycle, and the reason it is so good is because it does the unique part extraordinarily well. The boxer-twin is an engine with great character and tractable performance. It keeps the weight low in the chassis, making the bike handle really-really well. And the dedicated chassis complements the engine unlike anything else. The front Telelever suspension is innovative and quite remarkable at what it does. And BMW has refined this package over decades, not years, leading to one of the easiest choices for anyone looking to buy a big adventure motorcycle… with enough money!

How Does the G 310 GS Handles the Burden

BMW G 310 GS BS6/Euro 5
All LED lighting and a small standard visor

The challenge for the G 310 GS is not only that it's a GS, but that it also mimics the design of the R 1250 GS more than that of any other GS. It is clear that BMW wants the baby GS to be associated more with the daddy GS. And it all creates expectations.

Now, the G 310 GS is an entirely different platform in essence. It’s based on a street bike, the G 310 R, rather than being an adventure bike platform in itself. Neither does it have the unique boxer-twin nor does the dedicated chassis and the awesome Telelever suspension.

However, BMW has designed the single-cylinder, 313cc engine with a touch of innovation. The cylinder is tilted backwards and the head is rotated backwards by 180-degree. This has allowed more volume of fresh air to hit the cylinder at the front, as well as improved the efficiency of air-fuel mixture.

However, the biggest advantage of this setup is experienced while riding. The base of the engine (the crankcase and the transmission shaft) is put closer to the front wheel because the backward-tilted cylinder creates more space for the base to be situated more at the front. This shifts the balance of the weight more toward the front and lower in the chassis, enabling light handling and sure-footedness at all times. This is not a theoretical benefit.

The G 310 GS rides like that all the time; it is precise while navigating through traffic, it is agile, and enjoyably stable while cornering, something it is quite eager to do. The bike’s handling dynamics encourage leaning into corners, and this is the reason why going through long, sweeping corners at speed is one of the most fun aspects of riding the baby GS. Given the adventure-touring/sports intent of the motorcycle, it is so much fun that it’s so easy to flick through traffic and take on consecutive corners on a curvy-mountain road like a boss. As if it’s meant to be there.

BMW G 310 GS BS6/Euro 5
G 310 GS standing smart on a light off-road trail

But purely crediting the engine architecture and its arrangement in the chassis for the motorcycle’s excellent handling is neither correct nor accurate. While BMW has developed a fantastic steel-trellis frame which provides a great combination of flex and stiffness, the front and rear suspensions are equally competitive and tuned to perfectly to get on with the job.

The damping has been reworked compared to the suspension on the first generation G 310 GS, making the updated motorcycle noticeably better to ride on various road surfaces. The whole suspension package contributes greatly to the way the motorcycle handles and feels while leaning or changing directions rapidly. The front and rear suspensions also don’t bottom out easily. I accidentally went fast over a few speed breakers and the motorcycle remained composed and the front, especially, landed confidently with no bottoming out or jolt to the handlebar. There’s a good combination of plushness and stiffness, and that’s never easy to achieve in a non-adjustable suspension. Of course, the rear monoshock has the usual preload settings.

Adding to the sporty handling characteristics is the riding position. For a straightforward comparison, the G 310 GS’s riding position is not as upright as the Royal Enfield Himalayan’s. On the GS, I sit slightly leaned forward while on my own Himalayan, I sit completely upright with my elbows bent a little bit more. Himalayan’s riding position is more relaxed as is the whole motorcycle, while the GS’s riding stance is comparatively sportier as is the whole motorcycle.

However, the smallest GS is still a comfortable motorcycle for city riding with a nice seat. I just can’t comment on the touring comfort as I didn’t get the chance to tour on it. Also, I like GS’s rider’s seat, and one particular thing I like more about it than my Himalayan’s seat is that the GS’s seat is comparatively flat with less scoop. It allows me to shift my bums back and forth more easily, making it appear more accommodating.

The Engine is Good, But Perhaps it’s the Only Weak Link

BMW G 310 GS BS6/Euro 5

The heart of the motorcycle, its engine. The 313cc single-cylinder ideally strikes a good balance of power and efficiency in this class. It’s more powerful than a 250cc engine and less extreme than the KTM 390’s 373cc single. For me, it clearly outclasses the KTM 250 Adventure’s engine and it’s a good choice for anyone who feels that the 390 Adventure’s engine is a bit too aggressive.

On the road, especially in city riding, the engine feels pretty good actually. The ride by wire upgrade has made the throttle response crispier compared to the first gen G 310 GS. The engine feels more tractable throughout the rev-range, and the fueling is really good at low RPMs in all six gears. This makes calm riding not only possible, but enjoyable as well, and less frustrating when you’re stuck in stop-n-go traffic.

The engine is quite responsive in any RPM and gear, the throttle response is sharp but not too sensitive. The 313cc engine develops 34 PS at 9,250 RPM and 28 NM at 7,500 RPM, along with the compression ratio of 10.9:1. While this is a rev-happy engine, it’s not the same as the KTM 390 Adventure’s engine. KTM’s engine has a much higher compression ratio, revs faster, though not necessarily higher, and requires more control over the throttle in comparison.

The G 310 GS’s engine revs nicely and some riders might prefer its gentler nature over the KTM 390’s super-sharp engine. It allows the rider to exploit the chassis and suspension completely.

On the highway though, or when attempting to cruise at 100 kph+ speeds, the engine doesn’t feel relaxed. It feels like it’s being pulled back. And this is not in comparison to any other motorcycle, the G 310 GS’s engine does seem stressed at higher speeds. It will still cruise at 100-110 kph and will have enough power to make confident overtakes from those speeds, but it just doesn’t feel relaxed. And on long highways, that could be frustrating and could accelerate tiredness.

BMW G 310 GS BS6/Euro 5
Taking a break from some fun riding on an engaging ridge road

As a whole, I won’t say that the engine is bad, but its triple-digit cruising capability doesn’t appear to be satisfying. Also, the motorcycle weighs 175 kg ready-to-ride, and I feel that the engine should perform better in the G 310 R which is 11 kg lighter at 164 kg.

I will add that the engine is smoother than before, thanks to ride by wire. The throttle response is not only smooth, the overall harshness and vibrations have been noticeably reduced, but it is still not as good as the Honda CB300R’s engine in this case.

Generally, the G 310 GS remains a motorcycle that enjoys being pushed hard, pretty hard actually. Among the variety of conditions, I rode this motorcycle on a long ridge road with several inclining and declining sections, along with consecutive corners, including tight as well as the long sweeping ones.

Riding on that road enthusiastically gave plenty of opportunities to brake hard before diving into tight, 90-degree corners, and the GS never failed to impress. Riding like that, the motorcycle displayed sportbike-like handling dynamics and it felt that I was almost riding a streetfighter. I can only imagine how fun the smaller and the lighter G 310 R is going to be in such locations. Just Brilliant!

BMW G 310 GS BS6/Euro 5
Reflecting on how good this motorcycle feels

And on that note, I must point out the excellent brakes. Oftentimes people don’t realise that the reason they can push a motorcycle hard is because the brakes allow them to slow down or stop confidently. You just can’t push a motorcycle hard enough if you are aware that the brakes are not good, and that they’ll put you at risk in hard or emergency braking situations.

The braking setup on the G 310 GS is mighty impressive for me, whether you compare it with any other motorcycle or not, it’s a solid braking setup by itself. The front has a 300 mm disc with a radially mounted 4-piston ByBre calliper, the rear gets a 240 mm disc with a single-piston calliper. It’s quite a common setup nowadays even in small performance-oriented motorcycles.

BMW has tuned the brakes very well, and they are progressive, yet deliver a strong bite and feel. That is easily one of the best braking performances I’ve experienced in this category. They give you plenty of confidence in pushing the motorcycle hard in all traffic and riding conditions, and combined with the effective use of engine braking, you have a braking setup that is hard to beat in this class of motorcycles. Absolutely brilliant.

Adding to the good things are the fit-n-finish and the overall build quality of the motorcycle. BMW is one of those brands for whom these things are as important as any other aspect of a motorcycle, and the German company lives up to its reputation. The G 310 GS is a well-built motorcycle with highly satisfying fit-n-finish of body panels and other parts. Even the front brake cable is neatly routed through the front forks and the mudguard as it reaches to the front brake calliper. This, in particular, is the cleanest setup I have seen on any motorcycle, once again, in this category. This kind of finesse is usually observed on expensive, high-end motorcycles. And this is the level of attention to detail you’d expect from a manufacturer like BMW. I do hope that the quality of plastic and the overall fit-n-finish carries on over the years with regular maintenance.

BMW G 310 GS BS6/Euro 5
The best looking motorcycle in its category

The G 310 GS is a very good motorcycle, and as far as the handling and the performance within the city is concerned, it is fiercely competitive. It can hold its own around short, tight, and long sweeping corners, and it’s capable of outrunning more powerful motorcycles in such conditions. The riding dynamics are highly confidence inspiring and it leaves a lasting impression on the rider. If the engine can be more powerful without losing its current tractability, easiness, and friendly nature, this motorcycle can go on to become the reference for every other motorcycle in its segment. Because in my experience, its ride and handling already are.


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